There is nothing in the Old Testament, which is still the most respected history book of that era, to indicate there was any betting on the outcome of the David vs. Goliath no time limit brawl.
It's at least 1,000 to 1 that there would have been if Bob Martin had been around for the first major one-on-one between a good little man and a good big man. Martin definitely would have handicapped that fight to the finish. In Martin's book, devising a wagering line is what fighting's all about.
He has been doing it for years, in New York, Washington and, for the last 16 years, in Las Vegas. Martin is more than the most respected handicapper in the country. He also has the most inventive mind in his business, Jimmy the Greek to the contrary notwithstanding.
This wizard of odds does not limit his speculative mind merely to athletic contests. About 15 years ago, when he was furtively operating in Washington, Martin once focused his roaming attention on an appeal three convicted bookmakers had taken to the Supreme Court.
He was so interested in the case he attended the arguments. As he left, a companion asked Martin if he might be interested in putting up odds on the case. Martin obliged, instantly.
"I make the Supreme Court 10-1 favorites," Martin fired back, supporting his choice with a $1,000 to $100 wager, an oral deal agreed to on the steps of the Supreme Court.
The High Court reversed a lower court decision that had sentenced the three to three to five years with heavy fines. "We win, 9-love," Martin reported the decision to an accomplice.
He, of course, blew his 10-1 bet, but he could have not been more elated. He was one of the defendants.
For Wednesday's welterweight title fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns, Martin has something for everybody in a betting mood, 37 ways to get down. Martin's brainwork went on display Saturday at the Union Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, where he is resident handicapper.
Take your pick from among the following:
Three to one Leonard does not win by decision; 2-1 the fight does not go its scheduled 15 rounds; 5-1 Hearns does not win by decision; 7-1 Leonard does not stop Hearns within the first five rounds; 9-2 Hearns does not stop Leonard within the first five rounds; 7-2 against either fighter winning by a knockout in Rounds 6 through 10; 3-1 against Leonard stopping Hearns in Rounds 11 through 15; 7-1 against Hearns stopping Leonard in Rounds 11 through 15; 45-1 against a Leonard kayo in Rounds 1 or 2; 40 to 1 in Round 3; 35-1 in Rounds 4 and 5; 30-1 in Rounds 6 and 7; 25-1 in Round 8; 20-1 in Rounds 9 and 10; 15-1 in Rounds 11 and 12; 20-1 in Round 13; 14-1 in Round 14, and 30-1 in Round 15.
Thirty to one against a Hearns knockout in Rounds 1 or 2; 25-1 in Rounds 3, 4, 5; 20-1 in Rounds 6 and 7; 25-1 in Round 8; 30-1 in Rounds 9 and 10; 25-1 in Rounds 11 and 12; 40-1 in Round 13, and 45-1 in Rounds 14 and 15.
The fight is likely to go off even. Leonard has been the slight favorite since June when the bout was announced officially, but heavy money for Hearns has started to show. On the basis of Martin's odds, Hearns is a heavy favorite in the first five rounds, Leonard in the last five.
The record for fight betting in Las Vegas was almost $1.5 million in 1971 for the first Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight, but Martin projects Leonard-Hearns will double that handle. For two reasons.
"There are more sports books in Las Vegas today," he said, "and the 10 percent government excise tax on sports wagering has been eliminated."
Martin still leans toward Leonard, "because of his supreme confidence in himself and also he has fought tougher fighters, Wilfred Benitez and Roberto Duran twice."
This could be Martin's last hurrah as dean of the nation's handicappers. He recently pleaded guilty to violating federal gambling laws and is awaiting sentence. Nevertheless, he is planning to exploit this ill luck. He is tinkering with the notion of putting up an over and under line on the length of his sentence.
The number, he indicated, is likely to be three. Not points, but years.